Friday, September 26, 2014

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ The Comfort of Knowing We are Known

          One of the greatest comforts to me begins with one of the scariest things to me. One of the scariest things that people will face when they stand before God is described like this:
(Jesus speaking) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”[1]
          These people thought they were doing the more-good-works-than-bad-works routine. They were convinced they had passed the test. However, the fact they were strangers and enemies to Jesus, gives cause for the most serious, objective, introspective examination.
          Now, here is the wonderful comfort from my heavenly Father:
“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”[2]
          This tells me that:
·         My heavenly Father wants me to know that I am “of the truth” now.
·         My heavenly Father instructs me in how I can “reassure” my own heart about where I stand with him.
·         My heavenly Father shows me how my heart can be reassured “before him,” the greatest judge in the world, even though many in the world around me would challenge my assurance.
·         My heavenly Father tells me that he is quite aware of the tendency of my heart to condemn me. It has been trained well, and he knows it.
·         My heavenly Father wants me to know how much “greater” he is “than my heart,” so I will listen to what he has to say about me, rather than what my heart has to say about me.
·         My heavenly Father wants me to know that “he knows everything,” so I will acknowledge that it is who he knows in the judgment that really matters, that it is what he knows about my sin that really matters, and what he knows about his work of saving me out of my sin that really matters.
·         My heavenly Father wants me to know that it is “by this” that I can know I am in the truth, and reassure my heart in his presence whenever that heart-condemnation kicks in. Since there is a way to know, he tells me what the “by this” is, so that we also can know we are in the truth.
·         My heavenly Father wants me to know that, if the one who knows everything knows what the “by this we shall know” is, then he is the one we look to, no matter who else is saying anything else.
·         The “by this” refers to the immediately preceding context that the evidence that we know the love of God is that we show love to the brotherhood of believers.[3]
          Putting this all together, my conclusion goes something like this: If the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit[4] is flowing out of us in love for the brotherhood of believers,[5] we know we are of the truth.[6] Whenever our hearts condemn us, which is usually because we aren’t as good as we wish we were, we renew our minds with the truth that God is greater than our hearts. He knows both the bad that we do, and the completeness of the work of redemption in his Son, and so we can reassure our hearts in God’s presence, not with any list of all the good things we have done for him, but with the evidence that the great love with which God has loved us is overflowing from us into the lives of others.
          Another way of saying this would be, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”[7] The evidence that we are the “beloved children” of God is that we imitate God in his love for us. The evidence that we have come to experience the salvation of Jesus Christ who “loved us and gave himself up for us,” is that we “walk in love”, loving one another as he loves us.[8]
          When the apostle Paul wanted to summarize his argument that we are not saved by religious activity or good works, even including things once required by the law given to Israel through Moses, he said, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”[9]
          Anyone who has genuine faith in Jesus Christ, working through the love they express to others, has the assurance that they are already known by God now, and will remain known by God forever.

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Matthew 7:21-23
[2] I John 3:19-20
[3] I John 3:16-18, plus many others
[4] Romans 5:5
[5] I Peter 2:17
[6] Cf I Peter 1:22
[7] Ephesians 5:1-2
[8] John 13:34; 15:12
[9] Galatians 5:6

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